Wednesday 8 May 2024

The Battle of the Bands #1 - Alice Cooper vs Pink Floyd

 Today we see the start of another occasional series of blogs. I'm calling it "The Battle of The Bands". This will be a highly personal and highly opinionated series of blogs, where I look at two bands/artists and their take on the subject, and why I love one and hate the other, whilst looking at some aspects of why. 

We start with Alice Cooper's Schools Out vs Pink Floyd's another brick in the wall. Lets start with a look at Pink Floyd. Back in the dying embers of the 1960's, they were my favourite band. I detailed the story back in 2009.  I loved the whimsy of See Emily Play and I will forever associate it with my first girlfriend. Nearly everyone I knew dismissed it, stating that the Beatles were far better (they never were). By 1972, I'd almost forgotten Pink Floyd. I wasn't overly interested in music then. Nothing much excited me. ON April 26th, Alice Cooper released Schools Out.  Amazing Grace by The Scots Guards was no 1 in the UK. I'd never seen or heard anything like it.

I was at St Vincents at the time. I absolutely hated it. Grown ups would tell me that school is the happiest years of your life. It wasn't it was horrible. Hearing Mr Cooper singing "Schools been blown to pieces" over a vibrant rock backing was perhaps the moment I realised that Rock and Roll was something I needed to explore. There really are no words to sum up how great it was to have an adult elucidating my feelings in a rock band.  

"School's Out"

Well, we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Making all that noise
'Cause they found new toys
Well, we can't salute ya
Can't find a flag
If that don't suit ya
That's a drag

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks, yeah

Well, we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes

School's out for summer
School's out forever
My school's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks
Out for summer
Out 'til fall
We might not come back at all

School's out forever
School's out for summer
School's out with fever
School's out completely

Fast forward to 1979. I'd left St Vincents Primary and Finchley Catholic High School and I was at Orange Hill School. This was actually the happiest part of my education by a long chalk. By now, I was a fully committed music lover, with Punk and the new wave of Ska being my favourite genres. I rarely thought of Pink Floyd or Alice Cooper. Things had moved on. Some of my mates, mostly the cannabis smoking fraternity, had got into Pink Floyd. Not the whimsy of Syd Barratt era, that I so loved. After Barratt left, the band became rather serious. It didn't work for me and I had no interest. But then, Another Brick in the Wall was released. My Floyd loving mates informed me that the lyrics were pretty punk. It had an animated video, something I've always loved. 

"Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)"

[Roger Waters & David Gilmour:]
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave them kids alone

Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone

All in all it's just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall

[Pupils from the Fourth Form Music Class Islington Green School, London:]
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers, leave them kids alone

Hey, teacher, leave us kids alone

All in all you're just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall

[Roger Waters:]
Wrong! Do it again!
Wrong! Do it again!
If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding!
How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!
You! Yes, you, behind the bike sheds. Stand still, laddie!

I read about it before I heard it and was actually quite excited. I'd not paid enough attention to realise that Barratt, the genius in the band, had left. From the first few notes, I realised that this was not the Pink Floyd I loved. All it did was take me back to St Vincents and horrible nuns making us miserable. 

Music is evocative, and whilst Alice Copper gave us hope, Pink Floyd robbed us of it. Cooper was singing of rebellion, Pink Floyd were singing about the crushing of the human soul.

I think that was the moment I fell out of love with Pink Floyd. To make matters worse, all of my Hippy friends loved the album. I'd be forced to suffer it as they skinned up and bored me about the musical artistry of Roger Waters & co. 

What is quite ironic is that after having hated the song for the best part of 45 years, I now sing the melody when I am at Hadley FC, albeit with new words extolling the wonders of the team.

So for me, in the Battle of The Bands #1, it is an emphatic victory for Alice Cooper, albeit with the caveat that I absolve Syd Barratt from all blame.

As an interesting aside, I was chatting to a customer about music and they asked me what I thought of Roger Waters. My flippant response was "The bloke has caused enough pain, I don't want to think about him at all". I was referring to my dislike of his masterpiece and the fact that it still gives me flashbacks to the most miserable period of my life. My customer assumed I was talking about his stance on Palestine and asked if I was a Zionist and stormed off in a huff before I had a chance to respond. It is not the first time my view of Waters has upset someone, but I hadn't realised he'd been canonised and all his prior sins absolved. As I've zero interest in his music, his stance on Palestine had passed my by. All I can really say is that the political views of someone who's music I really don't like will not make me enjoy their work or be interested in what they have to say, so I doubt I'll be researching Roger Waters views too much anytime soon.


Music is my life. Without my band, The False Dots, my life would have been impossibly dull. Have a listen to our new single/video if you can. It's sort of Ska/Punk, nothing like Alice Cooper or Pink Floyd!

Checkout our brand new single video - We all Love a Party

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